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Before smoking halibut, you’ll want to brine it for at least three hours in the refrigerator. This brine uses a combination of sugars and coriander

smoked halibut on slate with tartar sauce

Once the brine has soaked in, rinse the fish and smoke it a low temperature for about 2 hours or until the fish reaches 140F degrees.

At this point, you can serve it hot, or chill it and serve it cold with homemade tartar sauce and capers.

Sorry about this video format. It was recorded during my Periscope days when videos were shot vertically. It didn’t really translate well to YouTube.

4.41 from 69 votes

Smoked Halibut

Skip the salmon tonight and try something new – smoked halibut with homemade tartar sauce.
Prep Time: 6 hours
Cook Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 8 hours
Servings: 4


Smoked Halibut

  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup kosher salt
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 2 lbs fresh halibut

Homemade Tartar Sauce

  • 2 tbsp white onion, minced
  • 1/4 cup tomatoes, diced
  • 2 tbsp dill pickle, diced
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tsps vinegar from a jar of hot peppers
  • salt to taste


Smoked Halibut

  • Mix the sugars, salt and coriander together. Rub all over the halibut. Wrap in plastic wrap, place on a rimmed sheet pan and brine in the fridge for 3 hours.
  • Remove the plastic wrap and rinse of the fish. Pat it dry. Set it on a drying rack over a sheet pan for 1-2 hours in the fridge.
  • Heat the smoker to 200 degrees. Smoke for 2 hours or until the internal temperature reaches 140 degrees.

Homemade Tartar Sauce

  • Mix all the ingredients together and serve with the fish.


Calories: 502kcalCarbohydrates: 27gProtein: 42gFat: 24gSaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 122mgSodium: 14548mgPotassium: 1026mgSugar: 26gVitamin A: 260IUVitamin C: 2.5mgCalcium: 39mgIron: 0.7mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Did you try this recipe?Be sure to rate it, leave a comment and save it so you can make it again. Show off your awesome results on social by tagging @girlscangrill

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christie vanover standing against wood wall.

Hey BBQ Family

Hi. I’m Christie, the head cook and award-winning competitive pitmaster for Team Girls Can Grill. I have won multiple grand championships and have dozens of top ten category finishes. People know me as the girl who is forever hovering over a grill, smoker or campfire with tongs in one hand and a glass of wine in the other.

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Recipe Rating


  1. Hi Christie!

    I recently moved from California to Texas so I thought I’d better learn how to smoke and bbq properly! I’m starting on a gas grill with chips and depending how things go, will upgrade to a “proper” smoker. I used this recipe on some halibut I caught in Alaska and it was awesome! I added some cumin because then end result was tacos. I can’t wait to try more of your recipes!

    1. You should check out how to dry brine. Some of the science;

      Salt is made of sodium and chloride ions that carry electrical charges. These ions attack the proteins, causing them to unwind a bit, a process called denaturing. These altered proteins have a greater ability to retain water, so meat that has been treated with salt remains moister through the cooking process.

  2. We followed the instructions to a T and smoked it and pulled it off at 137 degrees internal temp. The fish was terrible – the smoke created a thick leathery bark on the fish and the fish inside was dry and so salty it was disgusting. I’m scratching my head what could have gone wrong. We have 2 lbs of Halibut cut into 4 fillets. Any suggestions?

    1. Sorry, the amount of salt in this recipe is way too much for a dry brine. Against my better judgement, followed this recipe exactly and the halibut came out like a salt lick.

      Would use the amounts shown as a wet brine, which is better for fish anyways. If you have to dry brine, sprinkle on 1/2 tablespoon per pound. Don’t use 1/2 cup of salt for 2 lbs of fish.

  3. The amount of salt is required to draw moisture out of the fish, as smoking is usually a form of preservation. The instructions would be better serves by saying ” remove the plastic wrap and rinse the fish, rinse the fish completely and thoroughly to remove all the salt. Rinsing the fish under cold running water for a long time until all the salt is washed away. You CANNOT over rinse at this stage.
    Then pat dry.

  4. I followed the recipe to the T and yes I rinsed very well after the brine. I did put olive oil on it to help with moisture and we loved it. The tarter sauce was very complimentary to the fish and I used hot dill pickles and their juice for the tarter. Turned out yummy. I will say that a bite once in awhile was salty. I don’t know the answer to every one’s questions about brining except to say rinse the fish a lot as stated above. It’s a good recipe!

  5. Been involved with smokers for years. From homemade wood box, old old refrigerators (before plastic innards) to the simple ones of today yet I seek advice or suggestion. I have a bunch of halibut with NO skin. Never smoked fish without the skin. What can I do .? Afraid it will fall apart.

  6. been smoking skinless halibut for 20 odd years. 1 part sat to three parts brown sugar guy, pepper to taste mix yo9ur rub put it on both sides of the Butt and let sit for three to five hours, rinse thoroughly and pat dry. I use a cold smoke for three hours. Remove, vacuum pack – freeze or use – your choice.